More than 86,000 people are injured by tripping over their cats and dogs every year in the U.S.
Dogs and cats soothe the soul and provide companionship, but a report released this week suggests they sometimes cause broken bones and sprains, too.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that every year, more than 86,000 fall injuries are caused by pets. Dogs are the biggest culprits, causing 88 percent of the injuries. Cats cause 11.7 percent of the falls, according to the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
CDC researchers formulated the national estimates based on data from 66 emergency rooms.
"Many of them occurred while people were walking their dog or chasing either their dog or cat," said Judy Stevens, an epidemiologist with the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. "Over half the injuries with dogs were either falls or tripping over the pet or they were pushed or pulled by the pet."
Pets can suddenly rush to the door or scurry around the owners' feet, causing these accidents, experts said.
At least once a week, a patient injured by an overexcited dog or an unexpected chew toy walks into the office of Dr. Leon S. Benson, an orthopedic surgeon and chief of hand surgery at the NorthShore University HealthSystem in Evanston, Illinois. These patients often have wrist fractures after falling on an outstretched hand.